The show must go on.
And at Earl of March Secondary School the annual stage production will continue, as students stepped up and took charge to produce Becoming Juliet after teachers walked out on extracurricular activities this year due to a labour dispute.
“It’s all student-run. We’ve done everything ourselves,” said Grade 12 student Taylor Dixon, who’s been cast as the handsome but not-too-bright jock Joey Pulaski.
“It’s tough, but we have a lot of experienced people who have done it before … . They make it a lot easier for everyone else.”
Parent volunteers are present during rehearsals in the auditorium for safety reasons, but everything else is handled by the students.
Director and Grade 12 student Josh Gawreletz said the play is very fitting as it ties in with their situation.
In Becoming Juliet, a high school finds its arts funding cut by the school board. But a determined drama teacher comes up with a plan to produce a show for as little money as possible.
“It’s a story about how they’re creating a show,” said Josh, who lives in Kanata Lakes. “It’s a really interesting piece because it kind of mirrors our situation … There’s not a lot of faculty support. We have a limited budget as well. It kind of works both ways.”
The cast and crew have been rehearsing six days a week to prepare for opening night.
Shows will be held on Feb. 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. and on Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.
“The whole process has been such an experience for me and everyone involved. What we’re looking forward to honestly is curtain up and to present what we’ve been working on since October,” said Josh. “It will definitely be more rewarding because this is our baby.”
He added the students who stepped up by getting involved in the project deserve a lot of credit.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the cast and the crew,” said Josh, 17. “I’m happy and really excited about how it’s turning out. I think we’re doing a really good job for what we’ve been given.”
All proceeds above and beyond the cost of production will be donated to the Kanata Haven Youth Centre, a drop-in for teenagers in the Glen Cairn area.
The students chose to donate to the centre because the production deals with mental health issues.
“I think it’s really appropriate,” said Josh. “It’s a really good cause, it’s local, it helps surrounding teens and youth. I think it’s a win-win.”
Diane McNulty, program director at the Haven, said she’s thrilled about the news.
“I think it’s awesome that kids are supporting kids,” she said.
The funds will all go towards the youth centre’s Not Alone! project, which offers services for youth that may be dealing with mental health issues or thoughts of suicide, as well as support training.
“We’re supporting a really good cause. If anyone can even make a donation it goes to a great cause. Our show is going to be awesome, so buy tickets,” said Taylor, who lives in Katimavik. “I’m most looking forward to getting on stage and seeing the audience. I’ve never been in front of a huge audience.”
This is Taylor’s first year as part of the play; he signed up to carry on a family tradition.
“I promised my grandmother I’d do it at least once,” he said, adding his sister and cousins both took part in productions when they attended Earl of March.
“I’m also really excited to see my grandmother smiling in the audience.”
Something he found surprising: “I found out I really enjoy doing it.”
Tickets will go on sale half an hour before each production and cost $5.
“It’s definitely been an incredible experience and I’m really hoping people will enjoy it,” said Josh.